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Using Data to Drive Creativity

The Big Idea 2.0 aka the Return of the Creative Agency

If you’re in the advertising business, you’ve been hearing about the return of the “big idea.” Yes, creativity is back! Why? To get the full picture, you first need to understand what caused it to go away in the first place: data. In recent years, whether you’re a multi-national advertising conglomerate or an NJ creative agency, chances are you’ve been asked to leverage data to target consumers in new, more effective ways.

Data-driven adverting—from online banner ads that seem to follow you around the web, to Facebook ads that seem to read your mind—are everywhere. They’ve become the bright, shiny object that has entranced marketers and clients alike. As a result, marketers have been tasked with diving into this brave new world of consumer behavior data. Their mission: uncover data-driven insights on how to reach customers in more relevant, contextual ways (usually with smaller budgets.)

Digging deep and going granular

It’s easy to understand the hold data has on clients and marketers. Never before have advertisers–including this NJ creative agency–had the power to get so granular, in terms of:

  • analyzing and reaching target markets
  • sparking one-to-one dialogues with customers
  • predicting outcomes
  • measuring engagement and effectiveness

Beware obsession, though. With the hyper-focus on data, many brands have even taken to letting this science dictate their use of creativity. And not just for optimizing campaigns, but for directing concept development. To quote Sheila Broflovski, “What what whaaaat???!!!” Sounds crazy, I know. This has been the reality for many an ad agency—and that is anything but inspiring.

Luckily for those of us who believe in the power of big ideas, the love for creativity is making a comeback—in new creative ways!

Smartphone ads are getting smarter…and more creative

The rise of mobile devices in the last ten years or so has enabled entirely new and innovative advertising formats to emerge. Interactive videos, rich media, gamification, quizzes, all of these exciting formats engage audiences in ways a simple print ad—no matter how creative—can’t approach. And it feels like we are just scratching at the surface of creativity. As the medium matures and technology progresses, the next wave of mobile ads are sure to take advertising to dynamic and exciting places we can’t possibly imagine.

Smartphones have also launched an entirely new category of advertising, the in-app ad. These ads generally take over the full screen, ensuring the user pay attention. That means your ad had better be entertaining, or it will turn off your viewer to both the product being advertised and the app in which it appears.

The future:  data-driven creativity

The insights and new abilities data offers are not going away, nor should they. They are critical tools that should be informing the actions of every intelligent marketer. But… they should be utilized in ways that help drive über-effective creativity on all levels. And it looks like that is starting to happen.

Unlike data, the real value of creativity, or fearless creativity (as we refer to it here at The S3 Agency), cannot be measured. Sliced. Diced. Put into a neat little box. We literally refer to creativity as “out of the box” thinking, right?

When you put creativity next to columns of data that can “prove” the achievement of KPIs, it’s easy to see how creativity might be pushed to the back seat. This is especially true for validating short-term success, which has become more of a focus, thanks to the shorter duration of time that people are staying in their job.

For too long, the industry has been placing big data and big ideas at odds. Yes, data has become sexy. Does that really make creativity unsexy? Of course not. Nobody sets out to make boring, uninspiring creative work. Inspiration is always job one, whether you’re an NJ creative agency or a Madison Avenue powerhouse.

Also, important to note, this isn’t the first time that creativity has taken a back seat. In the 1970s, the rise of positioning as an advertising trend is largely faulted for helping to put an end to the original Golden Age of Advertising.

Fearless creativity is alive and well in this NJ creative agency

While fearless creativity is our mantra, it’s important to note that we’re not talking about reckless creativity. At The S3 Agency, a full-service New Jersey creative agency, we define fearless as embracing innovative approaches rooted in data-driven insights. Regardless of the communication form – advertising, public relations, social media –we use data to remove fear on all sides of the client-agency relationship. Our big ideas start with big data – and that makes the big difference. 

Yes. Creativity is back in vogue. And thanks to big data, it’s better than ever. Which is a good thing for those of us who never gave up on the power of the big idea!


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